At least seven people were injured in Bangkok this morning, including a local newspaper reporter and an American photojournalist, as demonstrators exchanged gunfire and threw rocks ahead of national elections tomorrow.
The Associated Press reports:
The conflict pits demonstrators who say they want to suspend the country's fragile democracy to institute anti-corruption reforms against [Prime Minister] Yingluck's supporters and civilians who know the election will do little to solve the nation's crisis but insist the right to vote should not be taken away.
The protesters, a minority that cannot win power at the polls, are demanding the government be replaced by an unelected council that would rewrite political and electoral laws to combat deep-seated problems of corruption and money politics. Yingluck has refused to step down, arguing she is open to reform and such a council would be unconstitutional.
It was not even a decade ago that Thailand was subject to a military coup d'etat when the current prime minister's older brother, Thaksin Shinawatra, who currently lives in exile but remains influential in Thailand's rural north, was deposed.
"How did we get to this point?" asked Chanida Pakdeebanchasak, a 28-year-old Bangkok resident. "Since when does going to vote mean you don't love the country?"
"There's no point casting your ballot when the people who will get to Parliament are the same old crooks," 43-year-old Wanida Srithongphan, a protester from southern Thailand, is quoted as saying in an AP story from earlier this morning.
Meanwhile, back at the ranch, our very own major campaign committees (the DNC and RNC) collected $450 million in campaign contributions. Almost a half-billion dollars raised and spent and this isn't even really an election year! And that doesn't even include money raised by candidates themselves or outside groups.
Anyway, what was that you were saying about Thailand's "fragile democracy"?
[Image via AP]